El Universal reported today that while Greater Caracas needs at least 212 ambulances to properly service its residents, it can only count with 76 at the moment.
When broken down into its composite regions, the situation appears worse. For example, the Baruta municipality only has two out of six ambulances in service; in Chacao has three out of nine. The Sucre municipality fares much better, with three out of its four ambulances in service.
Enrique Montbrum, the head of Salud Baruta [Baruta Health], estimated that the municipality’s healthcare service receives at least 140 calls per week from people injured by projectiles and knives or in accidents, on top of health emergencies.
The vehicle shortage is not limited only to Caracas. Victor Lira, the head of the Miranda state Emergency Prevention and Attention program, says that while the state’s Civil Protection unit has 12 ambulances, only 8 are working. The state’s fire departments have 25 engines working out of a total of 60.
Lira suggested that the vehicle shortage is largely due to a lack of spare parts. He said:
We’re working at between 60-70% capacity. It’s not a budgetary problem.
Black Market Dollar Up 371% So Far in 2015
The black market exchange rate for Venezuelan Bolivares has jumped 371% so far in 2015.
The current black market exchange rate is Bs. 823 per U.S. dollar, a figure that is 130 times higher than the official exchange rate of Bs. 6.30 per U.S. dollar. Back in September 29, 2014, the unofficial rate sat at Bs. 100.93.
The dramatic discrepancy between the official and unofficial rates are indicative severe market distortions, the consequences of which are felt every day by ordinary Venezuelans through the scarcity of basic necessities.
MUD Calls for Tougher Fingerprint Scanners for Elections
Earlier today, the Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD) called on the Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE), the body in charge of the country’s elections, to make the fingerprint scanning process harder to fool to avoid electoral fraud in the December 6 parliamentary elections.
The MUD made the call as part of an auditing process meant to allow all parties involved in the election to raise concerns about the electoral process. The process started on Monday.
In Venezuelan elections, electors “sign in” to their respective voting centers by, among other things, having their fingerprints scanned by a machine.
The MUD is particularly worried about what happens when a fingerprint is not properly read by one of the machines. According to El Nacional, machines can try to scan an elector’s fingerprint up to seven times before the machine locks up and prevents further scans. However, electors are still allowed to vote even if the machine does not recognize their fingerprint.
Enrique Martinez from the La Causa R party argues that if the CNE is correct and the quality of the fingerprint scanners has improved, the number of incorrect scans before the machine locks up should be reduced to three scans. Martinez said:
This auditing process will allow us to find out how many fingerprints [are in the CNE system], how many people didn’t have fingerprints scanned, and what the quality of the scanned fingerprints is. We’ve asked for the number of “no match” scans to be reduced.
Since the Venezuelan constitution gives all Venezuelan citizens the right to vote in elections, a failure to have a fingerprint scanned is not an excuse to deny a citizen their right.
However, the fear is that errors with the machines could allow a person to vote more than once.
Venezuela Delays Defense Ministers Meeting
Yesterday afternoon, the Venezuelan government cancelled a meeting between the Colombian and Venezuelan Defense Ministers that was scheduled today. Foreign Affairs Minister Delcy Rodriguez made the announcement, but she did not provide a date for a new meeting.
This is the second time that the meeting has been cancelled.
Nutella Costs More than Monthly Minimum Wage
El Nacional reported today the price of a single jar of Nutella is higher than the monthly minimum wage. An ordinary 750 gram jar of the chocolaty treat costs anywhere between Bs. 12,000-15,645.
The minimum monthly wage in Venezuela is Bs. 7,421.57
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